Nissan resorts to 'desperation' pricing

The Japanese automaker has slashed the cost of 7 of its most popular vehicles in an attempt to stop losing US market share.

By Jason Notte May 2, 2013 7:17AM

Workers inspect a new Nissan Altima on the line at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn. (copyright Erik Schelzig/AP Photo)Nissan has built a reputation on middle-of-the-road, moderately priced cars that breed loyalty without creating a lot of buzz. That strong, silent streak is about to be broken.


As the Associated Press reported, Nissan (NSANY) has chopped U.S. prices on seven of its 18 models in an attempt to show up in more Internet searches. Cuts range from 2.7%, or $580, on the price of the automaker's top-selling Altima midsize car to 10.7%, or $4,400, on the Armada full-size SUV.


Nissan is also dropping prices on the Sentra compact car, Juke small crossover SUV, Murano midsize crossover, Rogue small crossover and the Maxima full-size sedan as executives are under pressure to snag a 10% share of the U.S. auto market by 2016 or sooner. Nissan's market share is currently stuck in reverse, dropping from 9.3% at this time last year to just 8.6% today, according to Autodata Corp.


That's fairly lousy timing, because the U.S. market share of Japanese competitors Honda (HMC) (9.2%) and Toyota (TM) (14.1%) has increased even as Chrysler (11.6%), Ford (F) (16.2%) and General Motors (GM) (18%) continue to gain ground.


Nissan reported Wednesday that its U.S. sales jumped 23% in April, bolstered by a 35% rise in Altima sales, a 44% spike in Sentra sales and a more than 200% surge for the reworked Pathfinder. Still, MotorIntelligence notes that only the Altima ranks among the 20 best-selling cars in the U.S.


That's somewhat of a problem for Nissan, which gets 65% of its U.S. sales from the seven cars it just discounted and is having trouble shedding its relative anonymity. With Nissan's sticker prices higher than those of similar cars made by competitors, online searches aren't even recognizing Nissan as an option.


The company's facelessness is especially troubling in a market where it's already making considerable investments. Nissan builds about 75% of its cars sold in the U.S. in North America. That should rise to 89% by the end of next year when the company shifts production of the Rogue and Murano across the Pacific.


That's probably why Nissan's discounts won't trigger a pricing war of any kind. Nissan notes that five of the models getting a price cut are produced in North America, which would nullify any benefits it would receive from Japan's efforts to weaken the yen against the dollar and undercut U.S. pricing.

Meanwhile, executives at GM said Wednesday they have no intention of changing their pricing plan in response to "what could be . . . desperation."


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May 2, 2013 9:59AM

I think an inexpensive small pickup would be a major seller.  I don't see any out there.

Just sayin'

May 2, 2013 10:50AM
It's not desperate. it's smart. Lower prices means more sales. It's called competition! And there's too little of it in the corporate world today. Do oil companies compete? ***l no! Do health insurance companies compete? **ll no! That's why prices are too high.
May 2, 2013 1:33PM
I remember back when Datsun stormed into America with those 210's 310's & small pickups that actually got GREAT MPG when gas was $1.25/gallon on a bad day. Fast forward to the present...Poor gas mileage across the board (gas $3+ per gallon) with everything but the LEAF and a pickup that has not been redesigned since 2000. 

The old hardbody was a popular truck because it was stylish (at the time) , cheap to own & got 20+ MPG with the stick.

Nissan has misjudged the future buyer as did the industry as a whole. They thought we would all be rich by now and willing to spend a small fortune on a ride. Avg Joe is neither able or willing.
May 2, 2013 10:29AM
Nissan is not addressing its long standing quality issues and use of cheep materials. My family worked in the auto parts business and I've worked for several key component suppliers and see this as well as experiencing first hand how Nissan treats its customers. I had a 2006 Maxima. It developed a transmission shifting problem at 68K miles. I made over 15 calls to Nissan. They kept passing me on to someone else and postponing any decision about the issue. In the end they said it was out of warranty 60K -vs 68K and they would not even pay for part of the repair. The dealer told me $3500 for a new transmission. I knew it was the shift soleniod for 2nd gear sticking and took it to a transmission specialist that installed a new **** module for $1500 He said I've already fixed 8 other Maxima's with the same problem. The plastic trim piece over the key hole broke because the plastic became brittle and retaining tabs broke. I could not buy that piece, I had to buy the entire door handle. Battery post terminal corroded and became intermittent. Need i say more... They had years to get their act together and now its catching up to them.
May 2, 2013 11:25AM
Quality and poor repair shot customer service. I have a Nissan Pathfinder that has been plagued with issues - satellite radio died, throttle housing, electrical issues. None of the failures were covered under warranty and in the case of the throttle issue, cost me ~ $1000 dollars!  I have vowed to never buy another Nissan if I have anything to say about it.
May 2, 2013 10:12AM

I own a 2009 Altima coupe and has been the best auto I have ever owned , but guess what , they quit making the coupe with the V6 and amenities that mine has and was standard in this model. They have cheapend  this model and allowed other manufacturers like Hundai and Subaru  to  move into that segment. They need to build "Excitement" .

May 2, 2013 1:53PM
Nissans problems have nothing to do with pricing. Their problems are poor quality, really poor dealer service and little support from the factory. You buy a Nissan, it's yours. Don't bother taking it back to the dealer. They will lie to you and fix nothing.  They are plagued with problems. Volkswagen suffers from some of the same. 
May 2, 2013 10:46AM

Why don't they start by producing a car that dosn't resemble a box of plastic. 


Every Nissan that I take on trade reminds me of an old Chrysler, or Dodge. 

May 2, 2013 1:33PM
Just buy FORD they did not rip off your tax dollars for Billions....Show some loyslty, plus they currently make the best cars and trucks
May 2, 2013 11:18AM
Discontinuing famous Zs in the late 80s was a mistakes keeps haunting Nissan for decades.
May 2, 2013 2:08PM
Greed is driving big business out of business. We should all stop buying cars for two or three years and let the scum auto makers - money mongos - suffer. I bet you could buy a car at a decent price then - not at the price of a house like it is now. Damn, $40 to 50K for a stank Chevy pick-up? F that sparky...
May 2, 2013 10:06AM
Nissan flip flops between making cars fun to drive and acting like an affordable care maker. They should focus on and stick with making cars which are fun to drive. I would like to see them offer more models with manual transmissions, stiffer supensions. I know they bet the farm on CVT, but they are simply not fun to drive. You combine that with cars which are poorly styled and you have decreasing sales. They will cut prices and be the value car line for awhile and (hopefully)eventually someone will mention you know the last time we did well with sales was when we made well performing cars compared to our rivals and the cycle will continue...

I recently purchased a car and Nissan cars did not even get a second look. This from someone who is a Nissan fan. I have had great luck with Nissan when they focus on well performing cars. I ended up going with a car which was actually fun to drive.

May 2, 2013 11:26AM
I do not trust the un-repairable CVT transmission.  If there's a problem the transmission has to be replaced.
May 2, 2013 10:13AM


I had a 2010 Maxima SV that was plagued with elecrical problems and irritating plastic rattles. I kept bring it back to the dealer and they couldn't find the problem. I ending up breaking the lease and taking a $$$ hit..stay away!! I wound up getting a Lexus ES 350 and it is incredible along with the residual.

May 2, 2013 10:46AM
I have a 2011 Altima.  Was forced into the vehicle due to high gas prices and a s****y economy.  Can't say I have any problems at the moment.... however, what I am most concerned about is the transmission.  I believe most (if not all) of Nissan's have a CVT transmission.  They have had problems with these in the past.  I believe they even had to extend the warranty on a number of vehicles due to poor transmissions.

Time will tell.

May 2, 2013 12:53PM

A small engine - smaller body - pickup with 4 doors!

Overseas they have lots of these.  With engines that start in the 1. something liter range.



May 2, 2013 12:43PM
I have a Rogue as a company car.
Very poor design inside. Huge blind spot, instruments and dials in awkward positions, lots of wasted space.
In cabin air filter is located behind the gas pedal and must be changed by a dealer..$89.00
However, you can literally fit a small child inside the glove box... I'm not kidding!
I do like the new exterior design of the Altima.

May 2, 2013 1:03PM
Just bought a 2013 chrysler 300 with 8 sp trans. My son rented a new maxima and we drove it to Tuscon, Rode like a jeep, seats were hard and the 290 hp engine sounded like it was  slipping. Reminded of the old plymouth hy-drive. Same price and no comparison .
May 2, 2013 2:18PM

Before jumping on the "Made in America" and "be loyal" boats, take a look at this site:



I have owned all types of autos/pickups. The one I was most upset with was a 2001 F350 CC Dually 4x4. Tranny went out after 65k miles. The dealer and Ford wouldn't cut me a deal to replace it because it was past the 50k mile warranty. The issue I had was that the tranny on a big diesel truck should not crater so soon. It should have lasted for years and many more miles. I just traded in a 2008 Nissan Altima. Not much fun to drive, but got great mileage.


Auto manufacturers will continue to raise prices unless the "whole" US population pulls the ol head out of the butt and realize how much they are getting screwed. I have not purchased a new vehicle since the F350 (Lariat sticker price is $34,000). Why in the world is the sticker on a new F250 4x4 $65k? 90% markup? I don't remember having my salary doubled the last 12 years. The dealers, banks, and credit unions are offering loans up to 96 months (8 years). To many idiots are jumping on these loans to keep payments low. The problem is you are stuck paying for something which may not last this long.


My advice is to stop buying new and stick with used until they all come to thier senses.

May 2, 2013 11:17AM
just yesterday there was an article on MSN about how Nissan reported a 23 percent sales gain over April of 2012. 
Nissan makes some of the most reliable cars on the road, some of the base models are really cheap but if you have under 20K to spend on a new car don't expect to have great interior.
If you want a car pretty on the inside you will need 30-40k to throw and if you end up with a German car you will have to sell it before warranty goes out. Coming from experience - 2007 X3(75K) and 2010 G37xS(62K)
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